ARLINGTON, Texas – This was a familiar formula, and one the Dallas Cowboys would probably like to see more often.
A lot has changed since Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott burst onto the NFL scene in 2016 – too much to document here. But for everything that's different, one thing is remarkably consistent: this team is often at its best when it's able to grind the opposition into the turf.
"When it got to the fourth quarter, it was obvious," Prescott said.
It feels like it's been a lifetime since we've watched the Cowboys snatch the will from their opponent as the game grew on, but it was fairly obvious in the early going that this was their intention in this Monday night meeting.
"They were trying to play coverage, they were playing a lot of shell, so we had good numbers in the box and we took advantage of that," Elliott said. "The O-Line, they played their tails off. They were moving guys out of their all night."
Let's not get it twisted. This isn't remotely the same team from that ground-and-pound offense in 2016, and Prescott isn't remotely the same quarterback. As we've seen already through the first three weeks of the season, this Cowboys offense can manufacture points a variety of ways.
Even still, it was a steady dose of the ground game – and particularly Elliott -- the Eagles got throughout this 41-21 win, and it was obviously not something they were equipped to handle.
Elliott's statline wasn't even all that gaudy. He toted the rock 17 times for 95 yards and two scores, slightly eclipsing Tony Pollard's total of 60 yards on 11 carries. He even let new teammate and former Eagle Corey Clement go in at the end of the game, eliminating his chance at a 100-yard effort.
"I wanted him to go in there and get a chance to get after them," Elliott joked.
Even still, the Cowboys clearly came into this game with a plan to wear their opponents out. By halftime, they had run 42 plays and picked up 19 first downs. And with Cowboys' ball carriers bashing into the front 25 times in the first half alone, it clearly had the desired effect.
"You can definitely tell," Elliott said. "You can tell with the O-Line pushing them all back five yards, you can tell when we're going hurry-up and they're still on the ground, cramping up. They definitely felt us."
Throw in a defense that's making momentum-swinging plays on the ball, and it's understandable why the Cowboys' starters got to spend some time on the bench in the fourth quarter. Asked about it afterward, Micah Parsons said he could sense a shift in the energy after Trevon Diggs' pick-six put the Cowboys up, 27-7.
"When you've got contagious energy, everybody just excited to see each other make those type of plays, it's hard to come back from that," he said. "And that's one thing I like about this team – everybody can eat."
That much is definitely true. The Cowboys have a lot of talent, and with it comes a wide variety of ways to win games. But however much this team might differ from 2016 – or any other iteration – it was fun to see that a tried and true formula still works.